I can go to Muddy’s farm, though she’s not there anymore. I can walk through the field where the house once stood, where the white stone milk barn is overgrown with growing, climbing, twining things.
I can walk the path Muddy’s children, my grandmother and 3 uncles walked, where my mother and her 3 sisters and brother walked, where my brother, cousins crossed the swinging bridge.
I remember Muddy when chickens and roosters strutted in the drive, and the water behind her house where Brashears Creek meets the Buck Creek. My boys have been there, skimmed slate rocks across the surface. That day, the water sparkled like diamonds under the blue sky and sunshine, as if to say, we’ve missed the sounds of feet like yours, murmurs like yours – won’t you stay like the children long ago stayed, shrieking, laughing, splashing, cooling in the summer heat, dragging toes through our sparkle?
Muddy’s creek wasn’t just a pretty sparkly. It refreshed, pushed back, nurtured – cooling fevers, quenching thirst, washed away the daily. It’s banks could tell a story of provision for real needs, real refreshing – real life. Sometimes it forgot its place, over-stepped it boundaries and crept in un-invited into Muddy’s home.
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Proverbs 37:25).
Muddy’s farm, where she and Claude walked out their faith, marked passages in prayer books that held journey significance.
where children were born and grandchildren summered.
where after cooking noon supper, Muddy would take her bible or her prayer book, sit up in her bed and read until time for dinner preparation.
where the harvest, the milk barn cows, eggs and chicks helped fill plates at her daughter’s, Mary Edna’s kitchen table in the city, when food was rationed during the war.
The builders of the house and the barn are gone, as are the aprons, the cake pans, the box of candy beside Muddy’s chair the day I remember winding my way to her, cows needing to be milked, the voices calling to supper, the radio, Claude’s leather University of Kentucky football helmet from their 1898 team, The Immortals. It’s all gone – but they left behind something nature couldn’t reclaim.
They left soul wells of living water that Muddy and Claude probably inherited from their forefathers. Their soul wells are my inheritance, available for me to open, to drink deeply from and be filled. Those soul wells reach down to nurture still today, just like they did during World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, through the 50s.
Life’s challenges may try to fill up those wells built for my aunts, uncles, cousins – my brother and I, our children – but they’re there, just waiting to be cleared, opened up for refreshing.
The names of that well are the same as Muddy’s: Savior, Redeemer, Shaddai, Yahweh, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah-Shalom, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah-Raah, I Am.
I re-dig those wells for my house – my husband digs them with me for our sons, their wives, our grandchildren – and great-grandchildren, – on down – leaving a rich inheritance. The wells we leave might be neglected, might be forgotten by some – but for a heart hungry for the great I Am – they will be there to be re-dug, to nourish, refresh and fill to over-flowing for the heart thirsty, a heart willing to find a Father God who loves us more than we can wrap our hearts and brains around.
The children of the righteous need never go begging. They have been provided for. Sometimes, they just need to go to the well, re-dig it, and drink deeply from the Holy waters.
*Note: I know it was Mary Eva (Muddy to her grandchildren- Mayme to her friends) and Claude’s farm – not just Muddy’s. I wish I knew more of Claude’s story, but I bet his story is passed down from his sons to his grandsons, the shared work, man’s responsibility and leadership of the household – the hard digging of the wells. I approached this from the matriarch’s perspective that has been handed down over kitchen table preparations, where women gather and share their history. In this house-full of boys, there’s no one really to pass my history down to – thank you for sitting down to the table with me, dicing up some celery, maybe peeling some potatoes, sharing a cup of coffee or tea. We all need to share our stories.